DRYADS Project – A Unifying Technological Ecosystem for Integrated Fire Management and Adaptive Forest Restoration in Changing Socio-Ecological Contexts

DRYADS, a large-scale EU Green Deal project, brings together a consortium of 46 partners from 13 European countries and Taiwan, in the fight against wildfires.  DRYADS will increase the effectiveness of enhanced sustainable fire and forest management under changing climate conditions, by building upon state-of-the-art high TRL products and latest innovations in fields covering all three stages of fire management -namely fire prevention and preparedness, detection and response, restoration and adaptation – and uniting them under the umbrella of a holistic Fire Management Platform Ecosystem. DRYADS will capitalise on expert knowledge and EU initiatives, but also address the need for proactive governance, change of forest management practices, community-based awareness and preparedness activities, where local communities and bio-economy sectors will play a central role.

Wildfires are a severe threat across Europe, causing significant environmental and economic damage. They are becoming more intense and widespread as a result of climate change, particular forestry practices, ecosystem deterioration, and rural depopulation. Longer fire seasons, more frequent fire events, additional fire-prone locations, and more extreme fire behaviour are all projected to enhance fire risk as a result of climate change. As of August 10, 2021, the EFFIS registered 1,877 fires across the EU and non-EU members this year, burning more than 600,000 hectares. That is roughly 2.5 times the annual average for the period from 2008-2020, both in terms of the number of fires and the total damage. Furthermore, the latest UNEP and GRID-Arendal report on wildfires foresees a global increase of extreme fire events up to 14 per cent by 2030. Extreme wildfire events, in addition to their devastating ecological impact, have an unparalleled social cost in terms of both human life and economic losses. In addition, intense wildfire episodes, which account for only around 2% of all fires, cause the lion’s share of fire damage.

The DRYADS project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme under the EU Green Deal call, aims at addressing a number of major challenges that wildfires pose, including current technological and infrastructural restrictions, but also severe environmental, societal, and economic consequences. The DRYADS fire management ecosystem will include various innovative technologies and systems covering all time-interconnected stages of wildfires (before, during and after). These will cover  material solutions for passive fire protection of buildings and critical infrastructures, technologies for social inclusion, the novel introduced concept of “Forestry 4.0”. Additionally, it will include the related emerging technologies, such as “Internet-of-Forest-Things”, “Forest Digital Twin”, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technologies -tailored for wildfire fighting and management-, computer and artificial vision, sustainable land management technologies and agroforestry solutions for ecological balance, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-assisted forest restoration. These technological solutions will allow the DRYADS consortium to enhance forest and communities protection against natural hazards and human-induced threats associated with climate change, to strengthen the resilience of EU forests, and to achieve a crucial step towards efficient and sustainable forest management. In total, over 26 different technologies will be optimized, developed, and validated in the implementation of DRYADS with expected results to include, among others, the minimization of the significant impacts caused by extreme fires and experience strengthening for end-users within a rich set of realistic scenarios via the project’s training programme. DRYADS will focus research, development and integration efforts on delivering systems of high relevance and benefit to the relevant end-users and the forestry market, while providing them, in turn, with an excellent opportunity to understand potential weaknesses or limitations of current technologies.

The DRYADS tools and solutions will be demonstrated and validated under actual operating conditions in eight complex pilot implementations in seven European countries and Taiwan. Among them is Austria, Norway, Spain, Italy, Romania, Greece and Germany; countries that have suffered the loss caused by extensive wildfires over the past years.

The multi-stakeholder approach implemented throughout the project will allow for the efficient integration of expert knowledge from professional foresters and actors in (i) forested social and ecological systems; (ii) forest economics and policy; and (iii) existing EU initiatives and services, in addressing wildfires through innovative means or mitigation strategies.

The official Kick-Off Meeting of the DRYADS project took place as a virtual event on February 21st and 22nd, 2022, with the participation of more than 100 experts that will work closely for  the next  3,5 – years to deliver an impactful and fully adaptable solution for wildfires prevention, detection and restoration of environmental disasters.

The role of K3Y in the project

The company focuses on the quantification of Europe-wide geographical and socio-economic conditions affected by wildfires. Furthermore, K3Y is involved with the optimisation of first response processes, geared toward wildfire prevention, preparedness, detection and containment. Lastly, K3Y leads the efforts in eliciting ecological and environmental models of wildfires as well as standardisation and interoperability activities using European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) parameters, metrics and methodologies.

More information about the DRYADS project is available here!

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